May 5, 2021

The Quest For Herd Immunity: South Africa And Zimbabwe’s Current Vaccine Options

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Mazvita Samuriwo

South Africa, which has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases on the African continent with over 1.4 million cases of Covid-19, received the Pfizer vaccine on 2 May, with the first batch containing approximately 325,260 Pfizer doses.

An additional estimated figure of 4.5 million Pfizer doses is set to arrive by the end of June 2021 to accelerate the country’s vaccination rollout programme.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine.
South Africa also secured 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine with resumption of administration set for May 17.

The rollout of the one-shot-vaccine had been temporarily suspended in the US, South Africa, and the European Union after joint recommendations from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“A pause in the use of the vaccine and abundance of caution,” pursuant to further investigations by the FDA, was recommended after six (now eight) female patients, developed a rare and serious blood clot, called a VITT (Vaccine Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia). Incidences of the clot have been cited by the CDC as being, “a very rare side effect.”

According to South Africa’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, “South Africa has not had any reports of clots that have formed after vaccination, after inoculating 289,787 health care workers under the Sisonke Protocol.”

The establishment of a no-fault compensation (NFC) fund, which aims to protect South Africans from potential injuries during the vaccination programme, also means that South Africa has complied with the precondition set by J&J and Pfizer to resume vaccinations.

Sinovac and Sinopharm in Zimbabwe

In contrast, Zimbabwe has recorded 38,327 Covid-19 cases to date and began its 2-shot- vaccine rollout programme in February after receiving approximately 200,000 vaccines from China.

In March, Zimbabwe subsequently received 1 million batches of Sinovac and approximately 430 000 people have been inoculated, with just over 94 000 now fully immunized.

Researchers in Brazil initially said Sinovac was 78% effective in their clinical trials, but in January 2021 revised that figure to 50.4%.

Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said the Sinopharm vaccine was 79.34% effective in preventing people from developing the disease based on interim data.

The World Health Organization’s requirement for the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine is 50 percent or above.

Possible Combination of vaccines in the foreseeable future.

In April, the head of China’s Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, proposed, “adjusting the vaccination process, such as the number of doses and intervals and adopting sequential vaccination with different types of vaccines, ” as a strategy to improve efficacy.

Gao Fu further called for people to get a shot as, “the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.”

Herd Immunity

The global strategy to provide protection and combat Covid-19 is to achieve herd immunity, which occurs when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, thereby providing indirect protection to those not immune to the disease.

Have you been vaccinated?
If yes – which vaccine was administered and how many jabs have you received?
If no – Why not?

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